- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bonny Jain knew where the Cambrian Mountains were located, and his correct answer made him the winner yesterday of the 2006 National Geographic Bee.

The eighth-grader from Moline, Ill., won a $25,000 college scholarship by naming the mountains that extend across much of Wales, from the Irish Sea to the Bristol Channel.

His victory was the culmination of a four-year effort — the first time he entered the contest, he placed second in his local school’s geography bee. Last year, he finished fourth in the national competition.

“It feels pretty cool to have gotten up to the top of the nation from second in the school,” Bonny, 12, told reporters after his win.

On stage, in banter with the bee’s moderator, “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek, Bonny seemed confident, saying he felt nervous only during the final round after he missed a question about the Andaman islands — his only wrong answer. He also felt uncertain when answering a question about the Tuareg people in the African nation of Niger, but that time he was right.

Although Bonny plans to celebrate his victory by having “a huge party,” he also needs to prepare for his third appearance in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, which starts Wednesday in the Washington.

Bonny was joined by his parents, Rohit and Beena Jain; his 5-year-old sister, Riya; and his teacher at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Kelly Mulcahy.

Neeraj Sirdeshmukh, 14, from Nashua, N.H., came in second and won a $15,000 college scholarship. Third-place contestant, Yeshwanth Kandimalla, 13, of Marietta, Ga., won a $10,000 college scholarship. The other seven finalists won $500 each.

Fifty-five fifth- through eighth-graders competed in the bee. They represented the 50 states, the District, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Pacific Territories and the Department of Defense Dependent schools. The group was whittled down to 10 finalists during the first round of competition Tuesday.

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